Sunday, August 24

Get Frugal and Save Money - Wal-Mart Savings Catcher

Now that we've settled into our new home, I had to find a new grocery store.  Pinellas County, FL isn't short on options, with 12 Publix Supermarkets and 4 Wal-Marts within a 4 mile radius of home.  Last week I heard an advertisement on the radio for a new app from Wal-Mart called Savings Catcher.  Ever the frugal miser, I was intrigued by its promise:  automatic price matching for all your purchases.  

This is as easy as it gets:  after buying your groceries at Wal-Mart, you enter the receipt code into an online app.  Within about 3 days, Wal-Mart will send you an e-Gift Card for any difference in their price versus local competitors.  I entered two receipts last week, and I've already received an e-Gift Card for $2.99.

Spending money shouldn't be fun, but I confess to being giddy when the first email arrived announcing my rebate:  I paid $1 for spaghetti sauce, but Albertson's had it on sale for $.79.  CVS had 2 liter soda on sale for $.75 (good for a $.69 rebate), and I saved $.03 on a green bell pepper.  I also saved on cantaloupe ($.08) and burritos ($.28).  For my first receipt, I received a refund back to a gift card in the amount of $1.29.  Even more exciting, I made a second trip the next day.  All I bought was a bag of cat food for $4.24.  For the cat food, Publix was offering it for $2.54, so I received $1.70 bag for the one item.

The new Wal-Mart Savings Catcher is a game changer.  Before, they offered a price match, but the onus was on the customer to find the lower price and mention it to the cashier.  That took too much time for me (who wants to spend an hour to save $1.29?).  But now, all I do is type in my receipt code.  There's peace of mind knowing I'm guaranteed to get the lowest price available.  Loving it!

Sunday, August 17

Taking a Frugal Trip to Ecuador

In 18 days we depart for Ecuador for three weeks!  This has been something I wanted to do for quite some time, and while there is the obligatory anxiety, I'm also super excited to spend some meaningful time in a foreign country.

One advantage of not being tied down by a traditional job is the flexibility my schedule provides.  I leveraged that flexibility by waiting until flights were reasonable.  For most travel, getting there can be the biggest expense.  We're paying less to fly to Guayaquil, Ecuador than we paid to "discount" airline Southwest for our recent trip to Las Vegas.

Save Money on Travel

  • Our two roundtrip flights were $772.  This was considerably less expensive than the other times I have looked at travel to Ecuador.  To keep costs low, we are flying non-stop from Miami to Guayaquil.  I chose an evening departure flight and overnight return to avoid overnight lodging in Miami.  
  • We will be leaving the car at the house, avoiding parking fees.  We will board a bus outside my neighborhood, then transfer to an express bus to Tampa.  From Tampa, we are taking the Megabus to the Miami International Airport.  Since I booked far in advance, our two way tickets on Megabus were only $6.00.   It actually costs less to travel by bus from Tampa to Miami than it will cost from our house to the Tampa bus terminal ($14 for both ways).
  • We will rely on public transit in Ecuador.  Taxis and buses are super cheap there.
  • I ordered two large backpacks so that we don't have to worry about moving wheeled luggage or paying extra to carry that luggage on buses.  

Save Money on Lodging

  • We will be in Ecuador for three weeks, but the accommodations should only cost $391 ($18.62 per night).  The first three nights I redeemed Hilton Honors points for the Hampton Inn in Guayaquil.  Then we spend two weeks at a hostel in Cuenca followed by four days at a hotel in Guayaquil.
  • The hostel in Cuenca provides bicycles, so we won't need a car.  Bus fare in Cuenca is only a $.25 if we decide to use that instead.  

Save Money on Food

  • We will adopt a locals diet (eating the local cuisine is part of the fun!).  
  • Eating from street vendors is common, but even a basic restaurant meal can cost about $3.

When we aren't busy moving and working on the new house, I'll be spending my time preparing for our journey.   This includes brushing up on my Spanish, planning our sightseeing, and figuring out how to travel ultra-light.